Up in the Berkshires this weekend at a great newish bar and eatery called "The Gypsy Joynt," I went to see my oldest son play bass behind a pick up band backing Caroline Mack. I'd heard about her.
Her father Todd Mack is a guitar player/singer/songwriter whose a fixture on the music scene in The Berkshires (he was on guitar Friday night and one set was just him without his daughter doing his own songs and some covers). She's been singing with him for several years (see the YouTube video below).
But she's thirteen now and her voice has grown stronger and her register a little broader and she writes her own songs, words and music. She comes across in the little stage patter she does as even younger, self-conscious yet almost giddy with delight at being on stage playing her music the night I saw her.
But once she opens her mouth and sings, especially when she's playing keyboards and singing a song she's written both music and words to, it's like her voice is that of another person. It isn't one of the competitive TV shows like "American Idol" kind of "show biz" razzle dazzle performance or perfect pitch prowess virtuoso performance at all.
She still sometimes fiddles with her dress or seems like she'd rather not draw attention to herself, but her voice is assured, confident, and powerful. I picked up her latest CD with just five tunes on it (they were selling it for just five bucks) and it gives a taste of what I experienced Friday night, but not nearly as uniquely.
Maybe it was the musicians(who were great on a second guitar and drums and my son on bass, I can't remember everyone's name unfortunately) and definitely the arrangements. Or that thing that happens when you hear music live sometimes and everything clicks, even if just for a moment. There was more of a presence Friday night of her keyboard playing too, the foundation of most of her own songs. Especially on the title song of the CD "Because of You."
This tune was so catchy and engaging I could see it going viral on YouTube and becoming a new teen anthem, or at least teen girl anthem. The hook is a clever repetitive "because of you, you, you, you you, you" etc. Haven't we all felt that way, and not just as teenagers.
I hadn't been feeling a hundred percent when I entered The Gypsy Joynt Friday night, but by the time I left I was. The power of live music, or the communal experience of sharing it with a packed house including folks I know, like bandmates of my son's from Bell Engine and others, or maybe just the power of this young girl's creativity and her commitment in sharing it, turned my day around.
I keep writing and talking about that power, the impact of our fellow humans' creative efforts on my heart and mind and soul (and health obviously), and the ways in which it brings rewards so far beyond anything a corporate entity can deliver. It saves my life in more ways than one over and over again.
And when the heart of that impact is coming from a thirteen-year-old just beginning her journey, it just makes me smile and say thank you to the universe and the human spirit that transcends all the petty jive the corporate power structure imposes on our world.
Here's a performance (in front of a large live audience) of Leonard Cohen's great anthem "Hallelujah" that she did with her father almost two years ago (the lower range of her register is weak on the endings of some phrases, and her voice cracks now and then, but if you watch it to the end you can hear the potential power in her that was more evident Friday night and I suspect will really blossom as she does.)